mini-AIR November issue: Morphospace (and D’Arcy Thompson)

November 23rd, 2014

The November issue of mini-AIR (our monthly e-mail newsletter just went out. (mini-AIR is a wee little supplement to the magazine). Topics include:

  • D’Arcy Thompson in Empirical Morphospace
  • The Phytophagous Scarab Chafers Morphospace Limerick Competition
  • Pie’s Null Morphospace
  • and more
It also has info about upcoming events.

Mel [pictured here] says, “It’s swell.”

mini-AIR is the simplest way to keep informed about Improbable and Ig Nobel news and events.

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BONUS: Video of the D’Arcy Thompson Animal Parade, which began the 2011 Ig Nobel show (for National Science Week) at the University of Dundee. D’Arcy Thompson was based, for much of his spectacular scientific/literary career, at Dundee. These taxidermied critters, carried into the theatre by three Ig Nobel Prize winners, and by two of Dundee’s most illustrious modern scientists, and by one of Scotland’s most dynamic historians, are in the museum collection Thompson built at the university:

BONUS: Medusan morphospace

Chalk, Cheese, Wood: Berger

November 23rd, 2014

berger-86x86Berger expresses an opinion as the the extent of metaphorical deterioration of Wood into chalk and cheese, in this small paper:

Chalk and Cheese: Response to Wood,” L.R. Berger, Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 43, no. 1, 2002, p. 126.

Grimes’s “20 nifty tricks to argue like a charlatan”

November 22nd, 2014

David Robert Grimes, in his blog Three Men and a Tiger, gives these 20 nifty tricks to argue like a charlatan

When discussions arise, those with a vested interest are adept at sidetracking the debate with enough petty logical fallacies to fool an audience into thinking their claims have some merit…. Perhaps we should look at their techniques and admire the smoke and mirrors approach to discussion that can leave the most well informed earnest orator flummoxed and flustered. Let’s give these rogues their due, and identify some of their little tricks, in the hopes we can catch them out at their own game.

So for your viewing pleasure, I present  these 20 nifty tricks to argue like a charlatan:
  • Use circular reasoning liberally – Circular reasoning is purely tautological but because you’re repeating your assertions it’ll just reinforce your message it for the less astute in the audience. “The bible is the literal truth because God wrote it and we know that because the bible says it!”  [click here to see the full list]

Boob Glue® (New Patent)

November 21st, 2014

Boob-GlueCalifornian inventor Dawn Jackson™  has just received (November 18, 2014,) a US patent for her ‘Breast shaping adhesive and methods for shaping breasts ‘ concept. The glue, which is made from “denatured alcohol and water and where the polymer is selected from the group consisting of: a methacrylate copolymer; a polyquaternium cationic polymer, a poly(acrylic acid) polymer; an acrylate copolymer; and combinations of two or more of the foregoing.” is used by “… applying a liquid adhesive to a selected area of a breast of a user; and positioning the breast to achieve a desired appearance in a manner where at least a portion of the liquid adhesive is in contact with an article of clothing being worn by the user to maintain the desired appearance.“

More details on the invention, currently marketed under the name Boob Glue®, can be found via the inventor’s proprietary website

Further on the physics of froth

November 20th, 2014

Hard and soft on the heels of the announcement about beer foam’s anti-spillage property comes other news about beer foam research:

Physics of Beer Tapping,” Javier Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Almudena Casado-Chacón, and Daniel Fuster, Physical Review Letters, 113, 214501, 20 November 2014. The authors report:

“The popular bar prank known in colloquial English as beer tapping consists in hitting the top of a beer bottle with a solid object, usually another bottle, to trigger the foaming over of the former within a few seconds. Despite the trick being known for a long time, to the best of our knowledge, the phenomenon still lacks scientific explanation. Although it seems natural to think that shock-induced cavitation enhances the diffusion of CO2 from the supersaturated bulk liquid into the bubbles by breaking them up, the subtle mechanism by which this happens remains unknown. Here, we show that the overall foaming-over process can be divided into three stages where different physical phenomena take place in different time scales: namely, the bubble-collapse (or cavitation) stage, the diffusion-driven stage, and the buoyancy-driven stage…. The physics behind this explosive process sheds insight into the dynamics of geological phenomena such as limnic eruptions.”

(Thanks to investigator Andrew Garner for bringing this to our attention.)

Lauren Davis wrote about this, earlier in the year, in Io9: “Why does beer overflow when you tap one bottle on top of another?

Olivia Castellini made a video in which she demonstrates and explains the phenomenon: